Less is more with logo designs in digital era

Providence Business News, December 12, 2016


A business logo is just a part of a company's marketing and branding effort, but in an increasingly digital and visual society, it can be as important as the company name.

Artistic directors and marketing companies that specialize in logo creation say the ones that work effectively are often simple and clean, telling the company story with an image and a few words.

Who doesn't know Nike by the swoosh and Just Do It? Or Dunkin' Donuts by its signature orange and pink letters?

Sometimes the new identities can cause confusion, or spark criticism. Providence adopted an orange "P" as a logo when it was rebranded as "The Creative Capital" in 2009, under former mayor, now U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline. It replaced "The Renaissance City" moniker that had emerged under the late former Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci Jr., who criticized the new tagline as the product of a Nashville marketing company, in a Wall Street Journal article.

Most companies who redesign or select a new logo often want a refreshed image to reach new audiences or better convey changing product lines or company ownership, according to logo specialists.

The trend of the past several years has emphasized designs that are simple and clean, using flat letters and visuals. Businesses are steering away from the more complicated designs.

One reason is the prevalence of consumers and businesses using digital devices, and the smaller screens of smartphones. Often a logo will be compressed in size to a point that the customer couldn't make out the details of a fuzzier image.

If the company is expressing a unique vision, or an old-fashioned quality, a handmade logo that reflects that is on-point. Madewell, a women's clothing retailer that emphasizes rustic and comfortable fashions in denim, flannel and wool, uses cursive letters in its logo, a simple black-on-white design, and it works well, said Jesse Snyder, senior art director at Duffy & Shanley Inc. in Providence. Logos are part of its services in marketing and rebranding.

The logo needs to reflect what the client wants to project, Snyder said, and he gets at that through a series of conversations, as well as research. "You have to sort of get them to break down, what is it that you want to say to your audience? How do you want to be perceived?"

To avoid jarring disruptions in logos, when companies request updated looks, most designers will try to create a logical evolution in logos, moving from the older versions to more modern looks. Starbucks, he said, has progressively adjusted its signature mermaid logo over the years.

For most companies, the process of reinvention comes every 10 to 20 years, said Michael Silvia, creative director at Duffy & Shanley. "It's a matter of feeling fresh to your audience," he said.

Jennifer Giardino is a co-owner of HulaFish Creative, which creates logos for a variety of companies, cities and nonprofit coalitions. The North Kingstown-based small business recently created a new logo for the First Source Providence program, a city effort to increase employment, and the R.I. Ports Coalition, which advocated for the state ballot question to increase port funding.

Giardino said the trend of the past several years is toward a more minimal design. "A lot of things we're seeing lately are simple, cool, minimal, flat," she said. "It can be used in print. It can be used online. It's just simple, clean, memorable."

Vertikal6, a client of HulaFish Creative, provides information technology services, including web hosting and software development. 

The Warwick-based tech provider wanted a new logo that reflected its new identity and focus. The logo created by HulaFish features six vertical circles alongside the company name, in crisp green and white colors. The tagline – Where Strategy Elevates Technology – helped to define the company mission.

Launched in April 2016, the logo was a part of a larger, two-year rebranding campaign, as the company, formerly known as Atrion SMB, had changed its functions, according to Rick Norberg, CEO. Atrion SMB had previously operated as a joint venture between Atrion Inc. [now Atrion, A Carousel Company, after being acquired by Carousel Industries of North America Inc. earlier this year] and RhodeOne Technology Solutions.

In the redesign, the logo colors changed from red and black to the more modern green and white, and the initial choice of a new name was altered slightly, from Vertical6 to the more tech-oriented Vertikal6, Norberg said. The number is a reference to six core values of the company.

The new branding came with a financial cost, which Norberg said easily reached the six figures, but it better defines the company moving forward.

"We wanted something that resonated with our clients," he said. •

Selling with pizazz

Providence Business News, October 28, 2016


Jennifer GiardIno and Jamie Sharp had worked together at a marketing agency more than 15 years ago, and hit it off. They remained friends, working for different companies.

In November 2015, they launched their own creative-services company, HulaFish Creative. Giardino handles marketing, while Sharp is the graphic designer. When meeting with new clients, they try to determine what the company needs, and how to say it with pizazz.

The business has offices in the Lafayette Mills of North Kingstown.

For an abstract artist, who has more than 30 years of experience, they created a lively, modern website.

For other companies, they've created logos, brands, marketing materials and other basic necessities.

They chose their own name, Hulafish, inspired by a sense of fun and the surrounding waters of Rhode Island. Their logo features a Hula-Hoop, twirling down two legs to form the capital letter ‘H.'

"We know we're good at what we do, but we have fun doing it," Sharp said. •